ThePrisoner One of my early surprises as a writer was when publishers and agents require you to squeeze your work into a genre. I took this the wrong way, hadn’t I written just what I wanted to write without regard for its genre, ‘I am not a number’ – or letters and numbers in BISAC terms.But I was missing the point. That was writing for fun, if I wanted to be a successful author then genres do become all important.
HughHowey In February this year Hugh Howey, an author and bibliophile, calculated that 70% of the top 100 Kindle bestsellers and 50% of its top 1,000 were either mystery/thrillers or science fiction/fantasy or romance. Looking across all formats of fiction book sales in the USA this focus is maintained – 48% were mystery/thriller/crime, 26% was sci-fi/fantasy, 25% literary fiction, 24% romance.
BISG In April 2013 the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)’s Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey supported this too. Certain fiction genres continuing to dominate on dedicated e-readers, while some specialized nonfiction genres perform better on other devices.For example, those who prefer dedicated e-readers were more likely to select general fiction, mystery, literary fiction, or romance as key e-book genres than users of other types of devices.

How-to guides and manuals were more popular with those who prefer reading e-books on personal computers. Consumers who prefer e-reading via smartphones were more likely to read travel books than either tablet or dedicated e-reader users.

HistoryBooks That last para raises the topic of non-fiction sales –which as they indicated tends towards the physical book but of all formats in the USA: history is the number one seller at 31%, biographies (isn’t that personal history?) at 29%, spirituality/religious was 26% (much lower in the UK).Other leading genres are self-help, business, true crime…
BaredToYou Nielsen Bookscan published some more fleshy genre splits back in 2012 across all formats:The top 100 books sold 30 million copies.

Taking out the E L James and Suzanne Collins entries as exceptional (which they were!) then the highest unit sales was 619,846 for Sylvia Day’s Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel (an on-trend erotic new adult romance).

The 100th on the list achieved 110,281 copies for Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman (a non-fiction memoir).

WarHorse The top 20 children’s books sold 5.3m copies, again discounting Suzanne Collins (acton adventure) the top unit sale was 309,761 for War Horse by Michael Morpurgo and the 20th was 146,897 copies for D C Thomson’s Beano Annual 2013.The top 20 autobiographies sold 2.1m copies with Jennifer Worth’s Call The Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s at 306,312 copies and at 20th was Justin Bieber: Just Getting Started (100% Official) at 50,056 copies.
Jamie15 Another exception occurred in 2013, when across all genres, My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson was top with 647,153 sales, [As a Chelsea fan I had real problems mentioning this – and couldn’t show the book here!] Inferno by Dan Brown was second 626.500 and at 100th was 11th Hour by James Patterson with 104,375 copies sold.The top 20 food & drink titles sold 2.7m copies with Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals selling 586,355 and the 20th being Sara Lewis’s Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 Slow Cooker Recipes which sold 49,355 copies.
self-publishing That same year Bowker Market Research suggested that self-published titles represented 20% of all crime, science fiction, romance and humour ebooks sold.When just adult fiction and non-fiction ebooks are looked at, self-publishing’s share had increased to 14% of the market, and in the crime, science fiction, romance and humour genres, self-publishing had taken more than 20%.  And this will only have become larger.
AllFiveTwoRows Hence why I have written two (soon three) thrillers and three non-fiction works on history! The reader interest is clearly best in these categories, why make it tough on yourself?
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